Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: There’s more than one way to slay a debt. Also in the news: How to know when it’s OK to spend, 3 steps to spring cleaning your credit card debt, and what to do when you desperately need help with medical bills.

There’s More Than One Way to Slay a Debt
These key points could help.

How to Know When It’s OK to Spend
Loosening the purse strings.

3 Steps to Spring-Cleaning Your Credit Card Debt
Time to shake the dust off.

What To Do When You Desperately Need Help With Medical Bills
Looking into medical debt forgiveness.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to give money advice that sticks. Also in the news: 3 steps to spring clean your credit card debt, how to research 401(k) funds on Morningstar, and using a loan to pay your tax bill.

How to Give Money Advice That Sticks
Focus on what you say and how you say it.

3 Steps to Spring-Clean Your Credit Card Debt
Scrub that debt away.

How to Research 401(k) Funds on Morningstar
Navigating the investment research company.

Should You Use a Loan to Pay Your Tax Bill?
Check the interest first.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 3 steps to spring clean your credit card debt. Also in the news: Trading privacy for car insurance discounts, how to improve your 401(k), and 4 ways to get a low-interest credit card.

3 Steps to Spring-Clean Your Credit Card Debt
Spring is finally here.

Should You Give Up Privacy for Car Insurance Discounts?
Being watched for a discount.

How to Improve Your 401(k)
Dealing with limited options.

4 Ways to Get a Low Interest Rate Credit Card
Get ready to negotiate.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Paying debt back home vexes expats. Also in the news: 6 surefire ways to delay your tax refund, can your employer cure your money woes, and how paying your credit card minimum puts you in a debt spiral.

Paying Debt Back Home Vexes Expats
When your debt follows you around the world.

6 Surefire Ways to Delay Your Tax Refund
Avoid them to get your refund faster.

Can Your Employer Cure Your Money Woes?
Debt solutions as employee benefits.

How Paying Your Credit Card Minimum Puts You in a Debt Spiral
Paying just the minimum won’t make a dent.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Money mistakes even smart people make. Also in the news: 3 reasons to choose a college based in price, the pros and cons of moving abroad for health care, and which state has the highest average credit card debt.

Money Mistakes Even Smart People Make
We all make them.

3 Reasons to Choose a College Based on Price
Spend less time in debt.

Should You Move Abroad for Health Care?
The pros and cons.

Where credit card debt is the worst in the US: States with the highest average balance
Where does your state rank?

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Don’t let friends and family pick your financial advisor. Also in the news: A month with the 50/30/20 budget plan, what the confusing terms in your 401(k) plan mean, and a growing number of Americans have more credit card debt than savings.

Don’t Let Friends and Family Pick Your Financial Advisor
Due diligence is essential.

Budget Diary: Navigating Holiday Spending and Debt Payments
A month with the 50/30/20 budget.

What This Confusing Term in Your 401(k) Plan Means
Deciphering the strange terms.

A growing number of Americans have more credit-card debt than savings
And it’s getting worse.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Furloughed workers face potential damage to their credit scores. Also in the news: A bill could expand the financial literacy of students, 8 budget types for businesses, and 6 practical ways to pay off credit card debt.

A big problem looms for furloughed workers — preventing damage to their credit scores
Another impact of the government shutdown.

Bill Introduced to Expand Financial Literacy of Students
Teaching more than just the basics.

8 Budget Types for Businesses
Different budgets for different needs.

6 practical ways to pay off credit card debt
Climbing your way out of debt.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to manage student loan debt without making it worse. Also in the news: How to get credit when you have none, why it may be time to stop itemizing your tax deductions, and the state most burdened by credit card debt.

How to Manage Student Loan Debt Without Making It Worse
Don’t let interest get out of hand.

How to Get Credit When You Have None
Starting from scratch.

It May Be Time to Stop Itemizing Your Tax Deductions
The standard deduction could be enough.

This state is the most burdened by credit-card debt
Is it yours?

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: New scoring could help credit-shy millennials. Also in the news: Giving yourself the gift of a $0 credit card balance, 5 key steps to joining the 401(k) Millionaires Club, and why you should only share your credit card info at a hotel at the front desk.

New Scoring Could Help Credit-Shy Millennials
Introducing UltraFICO.

Give Yourself the Gift of a $0 Credit Card Balance
A gift with long lasting impact.

5 Key Steps to Join the 401(k) Millionaires Club
Starting early is crucial.

Only Share Your Credit Card Info at a Hotel at the Front Desk
Protecting your info during your stay.

Q&A: Why you should keep credit use low

Dear Liz: You recently said you don’t need debt to have good credit, but I was told that “credit utilization” — the amount of credit you use compared with your credit limits — is important. Paying off the cards each month means zero balances are reported to the credit bureaus and result in no utilization. Also, older credit accounts help scores, and my older accounts dropped off after a period of time, lowering my average age of credit accounts to four years. How can I fix this? Good credit doesn’t stay on forever.

Answer: It’s not true that paying off your cards results in zero credit utilization. The balance that the card issuers report to the credit bureaus is typically the balance on your statement date. You could pay it off in full the very next day, and the statement date balance would still show up on your credit reports and get calculated into your credit scores.

That’s why it’s important to keep your credit utilization down, even if you pay in full (as you should). It’s good to keep charges below about 30% of your credit limit. Below 20% is even better, and below 10% is best.

Accounts typically won’t drop off your credit reports unless they’re closed. Even then, the closed accounts can remain on your credit reports for many years, contributing to the average age of your accounts. The key to having good scores is to keep a few accounts open and in use, not to carry debt.